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Key features to look for in your next aerial apparatus

Rosenbauer provides aerials that are built to last with controls that are easy to use for enhanced safety and effectiveness on the fireground

Rosenbauer King Cobra fire apparatus truck with aerial

When it’s time for your next aerial purchase, look for technological advancements that support easy operation – especially the kind younger, digital native crew members have come to expect – as well as precision and durability.


Sponsored by Rosenbauer

By Robert Avsec for FireRescue1 BrandFocus

What do Cobra, Viper, Roadrunner, T-Rex and Raptor have in common (besides being animal names)? They’re the names that Rosenbauer has given to each of their aerial apparatus models.

But cool names for their products is not how Rosenbauer has made its bones in the competitive world of fire apparatus manufacturing. No, they’ve done it by consistently pushing the envelope to incorporate the best in safety and operational ease of use for firefighters who depend on their aerial apparatus.

Here are three features Rosenbauer has designed into its aerial apparatus to deliver consistent, optimal performance:


Rosenbauer aerial devices make use of proprietary proportioning valves within the hydraulic system to ensure that the aerial device (e.g., platform, ladder) is always working at full power and full capacity. Rosenbauer’s engineers use an electric-over-hydraulic system controls to harness that power and capacity to give the aerial operator a smoother operation that eliminates ladder whip, whether they are raising or lowering the aerial or performing rotation, extension or retraction.

“That means the firefighter has the capability to get to their target faster, regardless of which function they’re using,” said Ernie Young, Rosenbauer’s western region aerial sales specialist. “All that means our aerials can be operated more smoothly with greater precision.”


Rosenbauer brings advanced technology to its aerial fire apparatus with its SMART Aerial Controls, a system that uses a CAN-bus electronic control system to connect all the aerial device’s key operational components – a single joystick, soft touch controls, short-jacking, auto-bedding and a SMART screen. Here’s how each one works:

Single joystick: With one hand on the Rosenbauer joystick and their eyes on their target, a firefighter can more safely, effectively and efficiently:

  • Rotate the ladder/platform (move the stick right or left).
  • Raise the ladder/platform (pull back on the joystick) or lower (push forward).
  • Extend or retract the ladder/platform using the joystick’s thumb switch.
Rosenbauer Single Joystick Control

Control for all the aerials’ other capabilities – tip lighting, tip tracking lights, aerial remote and dead man’s switch – are positioned only a slight thumb movement away on the joystick’s head.


“With our joystick, the firefighter can perform all three aerial device functions without ever taking their eyes away from their target or their hand off the stick” said Greg Genovese, Rosenbauer’s eastern region aerial sales specialist. “We see a great deal of enthusiasm for that feature, especially in younger firefighters who’ve grown up gaming on their computers or phones.”

There’s also an optional wireless radio remote control available so that one firefighter can operate both the aerial device and the pump panel from ground level. Intended for apparatus that have both operational capabilities, this is a valuable feature for fire departments that are increasingly finding themselves understaffed.

Soft Touch Controls: Ramping controls supply auto slowdown to avoid hard stops. The system automatically ends any jerky movements by the ladder or platform.

“Often, when I do demos for volunteer fire departments, if there’s a youngster – say 10 or 11 years old – I’ll have them operate the joystick,” said Genovese. “Everyone is typically amazed at how smoothly and quickly the aerial device moves.”

Short Jacking: The operational environment for required aerial operation is seldom ideal (e.g., narrow or congested streets, alleys), and the SMART Aerial system includes electronics to give the aerial operator operational capability on the short jack side. Rosenbauer’s short jacking controls monitor reads and assesses all conditions, even ground pressure, as well as the angle and extension of the outriggers for maximum stability.

Auto-Bedding: Think of today’s automobiles that can self-parallel park – that’s a good analogy for auto-bedding when it’s time to rotate, retract and lower the aerial into the stowed position. Using a “20-20-20” feature, a momentary auto-bedding switch automatically beds the aerial. Auto-bedding functionality is accessible when the aerial reaches 20 degrees rotated, 20 degrees elevated and 20% extended (or less than in all).

SMART Screens: Rosenbauer aerials have a 7-inch LED all-weather screen that displays operational data for the aerial operator in visual contexts. Each side of the clutter-free and color-coded screen features menu buttons that enable the operator to quickly navigate through information options. This is another feature appealing to younger firefighters who have grown up interacting with screens.

Rosenbauer aerials list.jpg

Rosenbauer offers six different aerial apparatus models to meet different operational needs.



When a fire department makes the financial investment in a piece of aerial apparatus ($1 million or more), they want to know that the equipment is going to last – especially the aerial device that’s constantly exposed to the elements of Mother Nature, as well as non-natural risks (like road salts during wintry weather).

For more than a decade, Rosenbauer has tackled that risk by using a hot dip zinc galvanizing process for all the aerial’s steel components. Hot dip galvanizing is a highly effective method to ensure that steel resists the elements for decades. Rosenbauer’s hot dip process results in the aerial’s steel parts being coated with molten zinc at least 3 millimeters in thickness, thus protecting those steel parts from corrosion and reducing the lubrication requirements for that aerial apparatus.

This means greater in-service life with less corrosion and less required maintenance, especially in hard-to-reach areas, says Genovese


Rosenbauer continues to push the envelope to give firefighters aerial apparatus that they can use more safely, effectively and efficiently. When it’s time for your next aerial purchase, look for technological advancements that support easy operation – especially the kind younger, digital native crew members have come to expect – as well as precision and durability.

Visit Rosenbauer for more information.

Read Next: Rosenbauer builds custom Cobra aerial fire truck for NASA’s Langley Research Center

Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Virginia) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years. He was an instructor for fire, EMS and hazardous materials courses at the local, state and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s degree in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy’s EFO Program. Beyond his writing for and, Avsec authors the blog Talking “Shop” 4 Fire & EMS and has published his first book, “Successful Transformational Change in a Fire and EMS Department: How a Focused Team Created a Revenue Recovery Program in Six Months – From Scratch.” Connect with Avsec on LinkedIn or via email.